In a report released Monday, the International Organization for Migration says that more than 3,000 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean since the beginning of 2014.
A total of 3,072 deaths have been registered, more than double the previous peak in 2011, during the Arab Spring uprisings, Deutsche Welle reports. That year, 1,500 migrants died. Since 2000, more than 40,000 have died or are missing and feared dead, with more than half trying to get to Europe.
So far this year, more than 100,000 "irregular migrants" have made it to the Italian coast, with many coming from Syria and Eritrea. As safety concerns grow in Libya, smugglers take advantage of the situation to send out more dilapidated boats into the Mediterranean. "Limited opportunities for safe and regular migration drive would-be migrants into the hands of smugglers," IOM chief William Lacy Swing said in a statement. "Undocumented migrants are not criminals. They are human beings in need of protection and assistance and deserving respect."
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